Your audience is a core part of your brand, so when you completely outsource your community to a third-party social media platform, you’re letting big tech take control of your relationship with your audience, you’re also losing access to valuable first-party data you can leverage to better understand their preferences.
However, it’s important to note that media organizations don’t need to get off social media completely. With 4.5 billion social media users around the world, platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn offer widespread opportunities for user acquisition. The key is to have a strategy to reclaim website traffic from social media.
In this article, we’re going to look at the top three reasons you need to reclaim your audience from social media and how you can build a nurtured and engaged community on your owned and operated sites.
3 reasons to reclaim your audience from social media
When building your audience or your following online, there are three main reasons you should always prioritize engaging your audience on your owned and operated sites over third-party social media platforms. These are as follows:
1. Building a direct relationship with your audience
If all your interactions with your audience take place on social media, you’re implicitly relying on a third party to determine how you can engage with your followers, and you’re making yourself vulnerable to policy changes that impact your community.
For instance, if your media organization has a Facebook page, Facebook can decide that your content violates its community guidelines and take the page down. Or, if Facebook suddenly changes its algorithm, your community can disappear overnight, wasting all the time you’ve invested into building that audience.
Making sure that most direct interactions with your audience take place on your site gives you more control over the conversation. It also ensures that your content isn’t subject to abstract community guidelines and social media moderation standards, so you can interact with your audience however you see fit.
2. Get to know your audience with first-party data
Publishers that rely on social media traffic to build their audience not only find themselves beholden to third-party policies but also lose the ability to collect first-party data. If users don’t visit your site, it’s difficult to gather data that could otherwise provide you with insights into their preferences.
While social media platforms like Twitter offer analytics solutions, these are generalist solutions that won’t necessarily be tailored to generate the insights into your audience that you need to compete against other media organizations and publishers.
Directing users to your site and collecting first-party data from subscribed members of the audience can help you generate insights into your audience’s preferences, while developing more relevant content and forming a closer relationship with your community over time.
3. Ensuring a civil community
Another challenge is relying on social media companies to moderate conversations, which they don’t do very well, as illustrated during Euro 2020 when England’s soccer team received over 2,000 abusive messages on Twitter.
If one of your journalists gets harassed on a website like Twitter with death threats, racist attacks, or harassment, you have to report the incidents and then wait for the site to investigate and take action.
On the other hand, if you move the conversation to your site, you can use an AI-driven community engagement solution to automatically moderate comments according to a customized moderation policy. That means if someone tries to leave a hateful comment, you can instantly block it so it doesn’t negatively impact the experience of other users.
How to support user retention and registration once they’re on your site
Once you get your audience from social media onto your site, there are a number of strategies you can use to maximize user retention and registration to ensure they engage with your brand.
1. Incentivize unsubscribed users to register
The best way to support user registration on your site is to provide visitors with an incentive to register. An incentive can be as simple as a gated comment section or user community, which they have to sign up for if they want to leave comments and interact with other users, or a newsletter providing valuable content not available on your surface site.
2. Start collecting first-party data
Once users have registered, you can start to collect first-party data about their preferences and sentiments, which you can use to develop propensity models and better understand the type of content they want to see.
3. Use AI-Driven moderation
Finally, you can help to retain users on your site by keeping the conversation civil with a proactive moderation policy. Rooting out harassment, racism, and spam is critical for making sure that users can have productive and engaging conversations on your site, without being overwhelmed with toxicity or junk content.
Use social media for acquisitions, not engagement
Building a following on your owned and operated sites and social media aren’t mutually exclusive. Social media traffic is great for user acquisition and for driving referrals, but you should always be looking to drive users to your owned and operated sites so you can have a deeper interaction and establish a long-term relationship with them.